Today, at 19 years and 266 days old, Connor McDavid became the youngest captain in NHL history, beating out Colorado’s Gabriel Landeskog (19 years, 286 days) and Pittsburgh’s Sidney Crosby (19 years, 297 days).
The announcement is just another piece of proof that McDavid is hockey’s next big thing, just like Sidney Crosby was a decade ago.
It has been no secret in Edmonton that McDavid would be the next team captain. He placed himself at the top of the franchise with his performance, when he scored 48 points in 45 games en route to a third place finish in voting for the Calder Trophy. He was named a Team North America captain, which is run by Edmonton General Manager Pete Chiarelli. McDavid provides Edmonton fans with renewed hope of returning to previous dominance after witnessing their team miss the playoffs since their surprise run at the Stanley Cup in 2006. It’s part of the reason why Milan Lucic chose to sign with Edmonton over the summer.
“He’s a very mature young man. It’s surprising he’s only 19 years old, the way he carries himself. That’s what’s going to make him a great leader and, at some point, the next captain of the Oilers.” Lucic said to Marc Spector of Sportsnet.com last week.
A winning team always has strong leaders. They need to be strong together so if anyone steps out of line the captain and his assistants can handle it. A strong leader takes care of the team’s issues and that’s what McDavid is believed to be. McDavid is already an on the ice leader. He shows this by doing the little things such as back checking and being fierce in puck battles. While he is young, his age shouldn’t worry people as this promotion to captain was inevitable. The only question that looms is if his on-ice leadership converts to off-ice leadership. It will be the veterans on his team that will have to help McDavid figure that part out.
The trading of Taylor Hall to the New Jersey Devils paved the way for McDavid to become the face of the franchise. McDavid is already in a different position Hall was never asked to fill in his six years with the Oilers. This goes to McDavid’s on-ice leadership, with the hope it translates perfectly to the other facets of the game. Oilers coach Todd McLellan thinks McDavid is ready for the spotlight.
“He’s mature beyond his years, so he’s dealt with all of you since he was 14,” McLellan said. “He handles himself very well and takes care of his teammate’s front of and with the media, which we think is very important in a Canadian franchise.”
The first overall pick in the 2015 draft from Newmarket, Ontario has all eyes of the NHL on him. It’s now his turn to step into the spotlight and guide the Oilers back to prominence. It will be a huge spot to fill following other Oiler greats like Wayne Gretzky and Mark Messier in the ‘80s. Could McDavid be the second coming of Gretzky like he is so often compared? McDavid has all the on-ice skills to become the next “Great One.” We will have to wait to see if he has the off-ice skills to propel a once great franchise back to the top. If McDavid is a part of a franchise turn around then the Gretzky parallels can be made. Until then we have the 2016 hockey season as our first glimpse into a future great player.